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Apr 9, 2011

Ancelotti not told to play Torres

Carlo Ancelotti insists he is under no pressure from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to play misfiring £50 million striker Fernando Torres.

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Ancelotti claimed he would have no qualms dropping Torres for Tuesday night's Champions League quarter-final second leg against Manchester United if he felt it would give the Blues the best chance of turning the tie around - and he said Abramovich was too "intelligent" to tell him otherwise.

Rumours persist the £50 million signing of Torres was one of Abramovich's whims, something Ancelotti has always denied. But the idea gathered momentum when - despite completely outshining his strike partner - Didier Drogba was substituted instead of the Spaniard in Wednesday night's first leg defeat to United.

Asked if he feared Abramovich's reaction were he to leave Torres out on Tuesday, Ancelotti said: "No, I never thought that. Roman's so intelligent, he'd never ask me not to do this.''

He added: "Fernando might not start against United, of course. I have to choose the players, not comparing the players with the money the club paid for them. I have to choose the line-up looking at the training sessions, the condition of the players and the spirit. Fernando knows this very well.''

Torres has now gone more than 12 hours without scoring, all but two of those in a Chelsea shirt. It has led to obvious comparisons with Andriy Shevchenko, another striker reportedly signed at Abramovich's behest who proved to be an expensive flop. Ancelotti, who sold Shevchenko to Chelsea while in charge at AC Milan, refused to be drawn on the similarities and claimed everyone associated with the club was willing Torres to come good.

"As soon as he scores his first goal, it will be like every Chelsea fan will have scored,'' he said. "Don't judge a player by the money he earns or that the club paid for the transfer. Judge by his behaviour on the pitch. And he has fantastic behaviour here now, as a worker, not just to score.''

He added: "I've spoken with him a lot of times, to stay focused on the job and confident. If the aim was just to score, he'd play every game. But we want him fit to work for the team. We don't ask him to score, score, score every time. This is not the right way to help him.''

Neither is withdrawing him from the firing line, according to Ancelotti.

"Obviously, I don't know what he really feels inside, but outside he's relaxed, confident in training, he likes to joke and have fun in training,'' he said. "I don't see him afraid or worried.''

Statistics appear to show Torres has lost some of his blistering pace following an injury-blighted 2010.

But Ancelotti said: "He was not 100% when he arrived here. The big problem was in the summer when he had a tear on his hamstring. But in the last few months, he has improved.''

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